How do you trim arborvitae?


Quick Answer

When trimming arborvitae, Home Guides suggests cutting away vertical growth to open up the inside of the plant. Remove competing leaders by cutting them close to the ground in stages - trimming 1/3 of the limb at a time to prevent damage to surrounding branches. Trim damaged branches by cutting 3 to 4 inches below the affected area, then dispose of the wood to avoid infecting other areas.

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Full Answer

Arborvitae should be trimmed annually in the winter before the sap begins to rise. This annual maintenance prevents breakage of damaged branches and limits problems with pests. Proper care and cleaning of tools while trimming is important to the health of the plant. Shears should be sharp and well-oiled before beginning the process. Between each cut, wipe the blades with Lysol, an antibacterial mouthwash or rubbing alcohol to disinfect the tool. This technique helps to prevent the spread of disease, and removes any bark, sawdust, sap or leaf residue from the blades.

Arborvitae is an evergreen tree or shrub that is hardy in U.S Department of Agriculture zones 3 through 9. It is a member of the cypress family and has scale-like leaves. If not trimmed, an arborvitae tree can reach a height of 30 feet. Nature Hills Nursery states that this type of tree adapts well to most soil conditions, and it prefers full to partial sun.

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